x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hero in Uzbekistan misses out on place in UAE Olympic squad

No room for Haboush Saleh in Mahdi Ali's choice of 18 players to play at the Games.

Haboush Saleh's heroics in Uzbekistan were not enough to earn him a place in the UAE's squad for London 2012.
Haboush Saleh's heroics in Uzbekistan were not enough to earn him a place in the UAE's squad for London 2012.

MANCHESTER // The Baniyas midfielder who scored the winning goal in the London 2012-clinching 3-2 victory at Uzbekistan has not been selected for the 18-man UAE football squad at the Olympics.

According to team lists provided by organisers, Haboush Saleh will be one of four players on "standby" from the original 23-man training squad ahead of London 2012. Along with Ali Mabhkout, the Al Jazira forward, the goalkeeper Dawoud Suleiman and the defender Saoud Saeed, Saleh may replace those in the first-choice squad if any are unable to play because of injury or illness.

A 23rd player who participated in the five-week training camp, the Baniyas defender Mohammed Jabar, was by rule not allowed to accompany the other 22 players to England, and returned to the UAE from Munich over the weekend.Mahdi Ali, the UAE coach, was required to make his squad dispositions known to London organisers two weeks ago, but he declined to make them public at the time.

Only the 18 officially in the squad are allowed to play or sit in the dugout for matches. Fifa allows 23 players to travel to its events, but the Olympic movement embraces the lower number as a cost-cutting measure The costs of lodging and meals for standby players are borne by the participating federations.

None of the decisions are a surprise.

Mabhkout was in the first XI for four of the six matches in the final round of Asia qualifying for London, but the return to fitness of Ahmed Ali and the addition of Ismail Matar as one of the three permitted overage players, along with Ahmed Khalil, gives Mahdi Ali three in-form forwards.

Saleh was in the side for the 1-0 victory at Iraq, and his dramatic goal in the final minute at Tashkent capped the fightback from 2-0 that gave the UAE football team their first berth in the Olympics. He also was left out by a combination of the return to fitness of regulars, particularly Omar Abdulrahman and Amer Abdulrahman, and the addition of an overage midfielder, Ismail Al Hammadi.

As the only other left-back in the training camp, Saeed had a chance for the first 18, but Mahdi Ali chose to go with two spare centre-backs, including Ali Al Ameri, who made only one appearance in the final round of qualifying.

Suleiman, the Al Ain keeper, has not seen action in an official game with the Under 23 side; he was a late addition to the squad when Al Wasl's Ahmed Mahmoud left the team because of injury.

Mahdi Ali's decision to keep his team moves private for as long as possible was done in the interests of team morale during the final days of what was a 36-day training camp, FA officials said.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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